Encircled on a flat frame, these clamshells are naturally dyed in a gradient for a summer decoration.

July 08, 2021
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blue ombre shell wreath
Ryan Liebe

The clamshells in this minimalist front-door greeting (or wall hanging) get their ombré effect from a simple soak in dye made from purple cabbage for varying lengths of time; the ones on top are untouched. As shown here, we used a variety of sizes including MOSIV Natural Clam Seashells measuring 1 1/4" to 2 1/2" ($4 for 20, etsy.com) and 2 1/2" to 4" ($13 for 20, etsy.com).

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What you need

Materials
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How to do it

Part 1

Step 1

Arrange clamshells around wreath form to get a sense of how many you need to dye. Set aside about a quarter of them to leave undyed (these will make up the top, white portion of wreath).

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Step 2

In a large saucepan, cover cabbage with water; bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer 30 minutes. Remove cabbage; reserve for another use (we like to chop it and sauté with garlic and caraway seeds for a simple side).

Step 3

Measure liquid, then return to saucepan. For every 1 cup of liquid, add 2 tablespoons vinegar and 2 1/2 tablespoons salt. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring, until salt dissolves.

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Step 4

Add remaining shells to liquid, making sure they are completely covered. Simmer over low heat 25 minutes. Remove from heat; allow shells to sit in liquid overnight, or until desired depth of color is reached: For the lighter blue color, remove some shells sooner (check periodically to see how the color is developing); remove the rest several hours later, once they've reached the deeper blue color. Remove shells to paper towel- or newspaper-lined trays and let dry completely.

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Step 5

Thread twine through top hole in wreath form and knot securely to make a hanger. To re-create our hanger's twisted look, loop an extra-long strand around itself.

Step 6

Arrange shells around wreath form, adjusting them to get a good color fade and fit, then hot-glue them on, one layer at a time. Let dry completely; hang.

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